March 4, 2014, 2:35 PM

An Amazon warehouse policy will come before the U.S. Supreme Court

A lawsuit seeks compensation for employees subject to post-shift security checks in a distribution center for the e-retailer, No. 1 in the Top 500 Guide. The case continues as Amazon seeks to boost its full-time fulfillment force.

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The U.S Supreme Court has taken a case that involves Inc. warehouse workers who want to get paid for time spent waiting for theft checks at the end of shifts.

The court is scheduled to take up the case in the fall. Amazon, No. 1 in the Internet Retailer 2013 Top 500 Guide (a new edition is due this spring) did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the case, which is titled Integrity Staffing v. Jesse Busk and Laurie Castro.

The case stems from a Nevada distribution center operated by Amazon, where workers contracted through Integrity Staffing Solutions Inc. pick and pack orders for online shoppers. The workers claim that under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act they are entitled to pay for the time spent in lines after clocking out to submit to security screenings designed to prevent theft from the warehouse. Workers could wait nearly a half hour in those lines, the suit claims.

Integrity did not immediately respond to a request for comment. “In order to be compensable, a task must be integral and indispensable to employees’ principal activities,” Integrity says a brief. “Refraining from committing a crime is a society-wide obligation, not part of an employee’s productive work for purpose of [the act].”

The workers argue that the law isn’t so clear clear about which employer-mandated  searches employees should be paid for, and that the anti-theft searches at the Amazon warehouse were “clearly tied to their particular jobs.”

Amazon has 54 U.S. distribution centers in the U.S., says Scot Wingo, CEO of online marketing firm ChannelAdvisor Corp., a number that’s been steadily rising as Amazon seeks to move inventory closer to consumers so it can offer fast delivery at a lower cost. Amazon increased its spending on fulfillment by 29% in the fourth quarter.

Last month, the e-retailer said it would hire 2,500 full-time workers for picking, packing and shipping jobs in six warehouses, in Virginia, Kansas, Washington state, South Carolina and Tennessee.




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